New Beginnings, New Hopes and New Horizons. Talking of the current play of India-Sri Lanka relations, these expressions promptly come to mind. This is clearly the transformational moment in India-Sri Lanka relations. In barely three months, there have been three high-profile interactions, starting from the visit of Sri Lankan foreign minister to India, followed by the February 15-18 visit of President Maithripala Sirisena to New Delhi. President Sirisena’s choice of India as his first overseas destination sent a clear message that the India-Lanka relations have moved into a fast lane.
Mr Sirisena’s visit was followed by India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s trip to Sri Lanka. Minister Swaraj’s wide-ranging interactions have set the stage for the visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Sri Lanka on March 13-14. The symbolism and importance of Mr Modi’s visit is clear from the fact that he will be the first prime minister to visit the island country after Rajiv Gandhi’s trip in 1987.
All eyes in the region will be on the meeting between Mr Modi and Mr Sirisena as they unveil an ambitious roadmap for multi-pronged acceleration of bilateral ties across diverse areas, including trade and investment, development cooperation, defence cooperation and reconstruction of the island nation. The talks are expected to focus on the political reconciliation process in Sri Lanka, an important issue that will be in focus when PM Modi visits Jaffna, home to a large population of Sri Lankan Tamils. The two leaders are also expected to discuss evolving joint mechanisms to address the issue of fishermen.
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